A semi-successful session

We share nice beers with each other all the time, so to make the session more interesting, we thought we’d try to share a tripel with someone else. Unfortunately, beer blogging Friday came round quickly and we were left trying to incorporate the session into our post-work Friday drink.

fullersvintage

This month’s session is hosted by Musings Over a Pint, who’ve asked us to share a tripel.

Now, we share nice beers with each other all the time, so to make it more interesting, we thought we’d try to share a tripel with someone else. Unfortunately, beer blogging Friday came round quickly and we were left trying to incorporate the session into our post-work Friday drink.

Bailey made a valiant effort by getting his workmates to go to the Old Monk, which used to have Belgian beer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t anymore.

Tripels aren’t that easy to get hold of in your average pub (even if you accept that they exist as a style) so I thought about it a bit and decided that we could perhaps get the spirit of The Session if not the exact beer and took one of my very best friends to the Jugged Hare on Vauxhall Bridge Road to share a bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale. That makes it the second time this special beer has featured in a Session post.

This was from the 2007 batch; despite being relatively “young” the flavour was well-developed and rounded. Malty biscuits and marmalade were beautifully balanced with a slight musty hop flavour. My friend said; “that’s lovely. Fruity, syrupy, like wine”.

I prefer Vintage Ale to any tripel I’ve had yet, and more to the point I got some quality time with a very good friend. So, mission accomplished. Bring on the weekend.

If you want older vintages, the Mad Bishop and Bear at Paddington station are selling 2005 bottles. Bailey and I got wasted on them just before Christmas while he was waiting for a train to Somerset. Anyone spotted any older vintages in pubs in London?

Boak

Pub in a shed

If you’re in the UK and into beer, have a look at this on the BBC I-player; fellow beer blogger John and his shed are featured.

This is no ordinary shed – Darlington-based John and his friends have all converted their sheds into mini-pubs serving homebrew.  BBC’s regional programme “Inside out” picked it up.

You could learn more about beer watching this than the whole series of James & Oz, and it makes home-brewing look seriously cool.

The bit you want is about 20 minutes into the show.

The impossibility of objective tasting

morebeers

This is by way of a summary of some thoughts we’ve had in the last year or so, backed up with links to some posts we’ve enjoyed elsewhere on related topics.

1. People’s palates work in different ways, as Wilson at Brewvana points out. For example, Boak’s is calibrated in such a way that anymore than the merest hint of salt in a meal renders it inedible, but she can handle almost as much chili heat as you care to throw at her.

2. Tastes evolve over time. Everyone knows the theory that you become more tolerant of bitter flavours as you enter your twenties. In the case of beer, there’s a similar theory (“Lupulin Threshold Shift“) which suggests we become more tolerant of the presence of hops the more we’re exposed to them, so a beer which tasted crazily hoppy two years ago when you first had it might not seem quite so extreme today.

3. Branding, marketing and other cultural prejudices influence our thinking. The only path to true wisdom is through blind taste testing, and that can really surprise you, as Lars discovered.

4. Context is all important. As long as it’s of reasonably good quality, the first beer you drink on holiday will taste pretty amazing. In fact, scratch the opening caveat: we always enjoy our first Cruzcampo on holiday in Spain, and it’s of very poor quality indeed.

Czech waiters aren't that bad

Perhaps living in London, one of the rudest cities on Earth, has given us a twisted perspective, but it seems to us that Czech waiters are getting a bad rep. Here’s a typical comment from a 2004 column in the Independent:

I thought French waiters were rude until I went to Prague. I saw a bullet-headed Czech waiter terrorise a French family, who asked if they could have half a meal for a small child without paying the full price. “Is not possible,” the waiter repeated over and over. “Is not possible. You better go now.” Whether this is Czech behaviour or post-Soviet behaviour I’m not sure, but the phrase “Is not possible” seems to be the motto of all Czech restaurants, hotels and taxi firms

On our recent holiday, we had geared ourselves up for sullen indifference at best; Fawltyesque rudeness at worst. Would we get shouted at? Insulted? Ignored?

In short, no. We found all but two waiters fairly friendly. A couple of the better ones were, well, downright cheerful — almost as if there was a spark of genuine human feeling behind their professional smiles.

It might have helped that we’d mustered a few words of Czech (“Hello”, “two beers, please”, “thank you very much”).

Of course, another possibility is that, having noted the uniform disgust with which their manners are regarded across the internet and print media, some of Prague’s bar managers and landlords have had a word with their staff:

“OK, impromptu staff meeting… I’ve had a crazy idea. I thought we’d try making our customers feel comfortable and happy here. Apparently, that goes down well. Weird, I know, but there you go. Let’s give it a try, see how it pans out.”